Aer Lingus Regional pilots reach pay settlement negating risk of further strikes - Istanbul Airport Meet and Assist

Pilots at Emerald Airlines, the ATR72 operator that flies passenger services under the Aer Lingus Regional franchise, have secured a 10% pay increase after an agreement was reached between the airline and the Irish Airline Pilots’ Association (IALPA). The three-year agreement, should it be approved by the pilot workforce, will see crews receive a 3.5% pay increase effective March 1, 2024, with another 3.5% increase to come into effect on March 1, 2025. On March 1, 2026, a 3pc increase will be paid.

The deal reached between IALPA and Emerald Airlines should negate the risk of industrial action taken by the pilots in 2023 that saw widespread disruption across the Aer Lingus Regional network.

Emerald Airlines, controlled by Irish businessman Conor McCarthy, has also agreed with IALPA that negotiations on enhancing the new agreement will take place if the company can generate accumulated profits by 2026. However, this would seem optimistic, as Emerald Air made losses of over €21 million ($23 million) in 2022 which was its first full year of operation.

In regional aviation, where profitability is notoriously difficult to achieve, particularly early on an airline’s lifecycle, only time will tell whether this goal is achieved.

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Emerald currently operates 17 ATR72 turboprop aircraft on routes primarily between the UK, Europe, and Dublin. The carrier plays a key role in feeding traffic from the regions to Aer Lingus’ long-haul network from Dublin Airport (DUB)., although also has a significant presence at Belfast City Airport, where it took over many routes formerly operated to numerous airports in Britain by the failed regional carrier Flybe.

The collective labor agreement (CLA) agreed between Emerald and IALPA includes a seniority agreement at the airline, as well as increases in sick pay and the introduction of a service-related pay scale. Emerald Airlines pilots are due to vote in a ballot on the measures on March 5, 2024, but with IALPA recommending the deal, it is highly likely the offer will be accepted.

“This CLA is a solid foundation on which pilots in Emerald can continue to improve their terms and conditions,” said IALPA president Mark Tighe. “This agreement is a significant achievement by our members in Emerald, given that a year ago the company refused to even engage with unions.”

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The deal comes as more than 700 pilots at Aer Lingus rejected a recent proposal tabled in February 2024 that would have seen them receive an 8.5% pay rise. Talks between the airline and its unions have been underway for over a year to date.

IALPA has been accused by Aer Lingus of having failed to engage in a recent negotiation process at the Workplace Relations Commission “in a responsible manner” and that, as a consequence, growth at the carrier is now at risk. The talks between IALPA and Aer Lingus are now headed to the Irish employment courts. IALPA’s negotiations with Aer Lingus are separate from those at Emerald Airlines.

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